Wednesday, November 12, 2014

For Offshore Units Avoiding Collisions and Safe Weather and Positioning Are Paramount

Three Established Industry Experts Offer Advice and Assistance
Shipping News Feature

NORWAY – UK – WORLDWIDE – For any mariner position and weather are probably the most important factors at any given time whilst at sea, for those serving aboard offshore units, who must at times feel helpless as the world of container ships and tankers passes them by, there is an added dimension of concern. This month sees advice from an historic name analysing the main causes of collisions, covering everything from vessel groundings to collisions with merchant, naval, and support vessels, whilst two Norwegian groups team up to offer better information to all those involved in the offshore oil and gas sector.

Lloyd’s Register has published new Guidance Notes for Collision Analysis to assist owners, operators, and designers of offshore units in identifying potential collision scenarios, assessing the relative risks and conducting numerical analysis, establishing representative collision loads, and measuring the impact of these loads on the structural integrity of offshore units. A collision may occur as a result of a vessel losing its positioning or navigational abilities due to structural, mechanical, or electrical failure, human error, and environmental conditions.

This suite of guidance notes support the Rules for Offshore Units, issued in July 2014 and mitigation of the risks facing those serving aboard are of paramount importance. Phil Rushton, Senior Engineer for Offshore Structures, and one of the primary authors steering the development of this latest guidance from Lloyd’s Register, comments:

“Assessing the impact of potential collisions is critical to the longevity of any offshore unit not only from a design perspective, but also to help ensure a safe operating environment. Collisions at sea represent one of the top safety hazards for any operator, mitigating collision risks is vital to the protection of our environment, the safety of industry’s people working offshore and the longevity of offshore energy infrastructure."

Lloyd’s Register has unparalleled global experience in collision analysis, offering consolidated engineering and technical services spanning risk identification, risk mitigation and approval of related plans, including finite element analysis, fatigue and fracture assessment, forensic and failure investigations, and a diverse range of relevant structural evaluations and a copy of the new Guidance Notes for Collision Analysis can be downloaded from HERE.

In Norway, two of the country’s leaders in their own field have joined together in an agreement to provide notifications of weather-related movements of floating offshore units and vessels undertaking complex marine operations. StormGeo began life as a TV weather forecaster and has progressed to service the offshore energy industry whilst Deep Sea Mooring is a hands on outfit which services the practical needs of the same sector.

StormGeo will publish and support the notifications, while Deep Sea Mooring will be responsible for the hydrodynamic models and all calculations of motion resulting from the expected weather. In principle, this high-tech approach can be used for all marine operations. As an example, it is now possible to forecast movements and wind speeds on helicopter decks several days in advance. By doing so, it is possible to determine whether the conditions/movements are within the set landing criteria for helicopter traffic. As a result, the efficiency of planning and coordinating helicopter traffic could be significantly enhanced.

The notifications are made possible through the combination of detailed weather forecasts and these advanced hydrodynamic models, which can identify critical movements on floating offshore units. By doing so, recipients can be alerted to the actual consequence of the forecasted weather on vessels, rather than just the weather itself. Åge Straume, CEO of Deep Sea Mooring, remarked:

“We are delighted to sign this agreement with StormGeo. It means that together we can offer an excellent planning tool, enabling users to make early decisions regarding forthcoming marine operations and thus minimise the movement of vessels and helicopter decks. This will result in significant savings for our customers.”

Other applications for the service encompass drilling operations and offshore lifting operations on floating units and a further example is illustrated by floatels (crew accommodation units moored at sea) that utilise DP (Dynamic Positioning). Here the direction the floatel should travel in to minimise walkway movement can be calculated, thus increasing availability before disconnection. In addition, information regarding disconnection windows is delivered in advance, meaning the process can be undertaken in safety during calm weather, rather than, in worst case scenarios, waiting for automatic disconnection. Hogne Folkestad, StormGeo VP Offshore, commented:

“This agreement with Deep Sea Mooring compliments and supports our ambition to deliver high quality services that facilitate optimum decision-making on weather-sensitive operations. In a time when the focus on cost saving and efficiencies is so great, it’s more important than ever to combine detailed weather information with optimal planning capabilities to execute critical offshore work.”